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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  March 8, 2016 1:00pm-3:01pm EST

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vice president who is in israel right now and is tomorrow will be meeting with prime minister netanyahu in jerusalem. so there's -- these kinds of interactions when that we have encountered questions about the relationship between our two countries in the past we have gone to great lengths not just to say but to demonstrate that the commitment to the united states -- or the commitment on the part of the united states to israel's security is unshakable. and that continues to be the case. and there are a variety of ways to demonstrate that. you know, from our steadfast support for israel's defense capabilities including support for things like their iron dome program, to the ongoing effort to negotiate a memorandum of understanding about the military assistance that we will provide to israel and extending that for another decade. those negotiations are ongoing. and all of that, i think, demonstrates the ongoing commitment that this
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administration and this country has to the security of our closest ally in the middle east. >> the israelis have said that contrary to what the white house had said yesterday that the ambassador did notify the white house that it was possible or likely that the prime minister would cancel his visit and that, you know, the reason for doing so was that they didn't want to get embroiled in thety mu ty mu chous -- rather than meeting with obama he's canceling his visit, or did you interpret this at face value the way the israelis described it? >> no, i don't think -- there's no reason to consider this a snub. i think the question is simply a matter of scheduling. and the israelis indicated that they had made plans with their schedule. i think we would have preferred to have heard about that in person before reading about it in media reports, but it
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certainly does not have any impact on our ability either as an administration or as a country to continue to strengthen the national security cooperation that we enjoy with the israelis. it's critical to their national security, and we benefit from it as well. and there's a variety of ways to document this including the fact that vice president biden is in israel right now and will be meeting with prime minister netanyahu tomorrow. >> an awkward meeting perhaps? >> well, we'll see. if anybody can handle it, it's the vice president. >> that's certainly true. and i know -- >> right? am i wrong about that? >> in the past from reading too much into the personal relationship between the two leaders as it relates to the broader u.s.-israel relationship, but for close allies, i mean, this is like really playing out in a public
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way that's kind of stunning. i mean, you guys are basically bickering with netanyahu's office through the media. >> i don't think that's true. again, there's no bickering here. it's not a -- i'm not demanding, for example, that somehow they should reschedule the meeting as soon as possible. i'm merely suggesting that if they weren't able to make the meeting, they should have just told us before they told a reporter. but, again, there's no offense taken. there's no -- it's not going to have any impact on our ability to try to, you know, negotiate this extension of the memorandum of understanding, this had no impact on vice president biden's trips or his plans to meet with prime minister netanyahu tomorrow. and certainly not going to have any impact on our approach moving forward on a variety of issues that are critical to the national security of the united states and critical to the national security of the nation of israel. >> did you see that as a -- you mentioned that they should have told you before they told a reporter. >> i think it's just good manners. >> right. but was it a continuation of kind of a breach of protocol that the white house discussed
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following the prime minister's speech to congress? >> yeah, i think this is obviously on a far different scale. >> okay. >> again, i think you'd have to ask them why they chose to pursue this in the way that they did. and, look, again, our preference would have been to just handle this privately. and i'm confident that one way or another it will. but the reason we're talking about it publicly is because they announced their plans publicly first and then we've gotten questions about it. >> i also want to ask you about the irgc and some ballistic missile tests in iran. does the u.s. see that as a violation of u.s. sanctions? i know, you know, you have continued to sanction the ballistic missiles program, but can you talk about what this speaks to the broader, you know, state of trying to dissuade iran from some of these dangerous actions? >> well, we were clear in the midst of negotiating the international agreement to prevent iran from obtaining a
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nuclear weapon that that agreement would relate strictly to iran's nuclear program. and we acknowledged at the time that there are a variety of other concerns that we had with the iranians. everything from their continued support for terrorism, their menacing of our closest ally in the middle east israel, at the time they were unjustly detaining some american citizens. and the fact that they had a ballistic missile program that was routinely tested outside of the requirements of a variety of u.n. security council resolutions, so we've acknowledged that the nuclear agreement was focused on preventing them from obtaining a nuclear weapon. and in some ways we actually said the fact they continued to develop this ballistic missl program makes it all more important to be successful in preventing them from attaining a nuclear weapon. this is not a violation of the
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nuclear agreement. there are -- or there's at least one specific united states security council resolution that could apply here. and the truth is we're still reviewing the iranian launch to assess whether it is necessary for this matter to be raised before the united nations security council. and we'll do that work. but, you know, longstanding concerns with iran's ballistic missile program have been well chronicled. and even earlier this year the united states put in place sanctions against iran because of their ballistic missile activity. but we'll review this particular incident, review this particular launch to determine what the appropriate response is. >> thanks. >> okay. rober roberta. >> back to israel. if there's no offense taken, why
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is the statement issued making -- why would the white house say we're surprised by this. why not handle that part of it privately? >> i guess because we were asked a question and we sought to answer it. so the statement put out from my colleague at the national security council was in response to a number of direct questions that were received after the news of prime minister netanyahu's changed travel was announced. >> okay. and ambassador dermer -- according to officials in israel, are you saying the white house didn't receive that advanced warning from the ambassador that it might not happen? >> i'm not going to get into the details of every question -- or every conversation that took place, but i don't think even those officials are suggesting that the israeli ambassador had informed the white house that prime minister netanyahu would not be coming to the white house on march 18th.
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that was our expectation that he would do that, that the prime minister would do that. and we learned that he was not going to do that based on media reports. and those are just the facts. >> lastly, has the president interviewed anyone yet for the supreme court vacancy? >> i'm not going to be in a position to give you a heads up when the president has begun interviewing a potential supreme court nominees. in the past when filling vacancies the president has interviewed potential candidates. i would assume that he would do so in this case, but i won't be able to provide much information about the timing or who would be included in that process. okay. mary. >> back on the meeting with netanyahu. i know you said it would be good manners if they communicated directly with you, but what does this say about the lines of communication? clearly they're pretty frayed if this is playing out so publicly. >> well, again, there are a variety of ways to evaluate that. and, you know, in this case
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there were some difficulties in scheduling a meeting but there wasn't any difficulty in scheduling vice president biden's trip to jerusalem and he'll meet with netanyahu tomorrow. there continue to be a number of questions related to the memorandum of understanding that would govern our continued military assistance to israel. the new memorandum of understanding would extend our commitment to israel by ten years. and that will be a pretty substantial down payment, an investment in israel's long-term national security needs. the work to complete the memorandum of understanding is still ongoing, but those negotiations have been taking place for the last several months without significant incident. >> and can you confirm that the pentagon has in fact presented to the president specific options for attacking the isis threat there and why or why not the president is considering?
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>> i will not get into the kind of advice that the commander in chief gets from his military leaders, but the fact that just in the last several months we've seen two high profile military strikes carried out by the united states military against leading isil figures in libya, should be an indication that the department of defense does have important capabilities in libya. the commander in chief has not hesitated to order that those operations take place, be undertaken. and we've seen that those operations have yielded important benefits for our national security. and if there are additional targets that are presented that are important to our national security and the president determines that that's the case, then as he has on two previous occasions he will not hesitate to carry them out. all right. pam. >> josh, again on the netanyahu thing, is there a chance that
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it's a tit for tat kind of thing? a year ago the president said he wouldn't visit with the prime minister while israel was about to hold its elections and netanyahu's office says we don't want to get involved in the american election. >> i don't know if that's how it's being perceived by the israelis. i can assure you that that's not how it was intended on our part. but this is -- the white house has been in touch with the israeli government about scheduling a meeting with the prime minister. and the prime minister made it known he would not be able to make it on march 18th. i think that's as simple as that. you have to ask him for the reason why. i don't know if that relates to his travel schedule or his concern about american politics. you should talk to him about that, but it's certainly not going to have any impact or interfere in a negative way with our continued commitment to the
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safety and security of our closest ally in the middle east. >> what is the vice president's chief goal in going to israel? is it to talk about u.s. military support? there aren't supposed to be any peace breakthroughs, but is he going to make any effort in that area? >> well, obviously the vice president has a long career of strengthening relations between the united states and israel. and he's devoted a significant portion of his political career to that relationship. he understands how unique that relationship is. and he certainly understands the consequences for that strong relationship for the national security of this country. i will be clear about one thing, which is that vice president biden does not intend and is not carrying with him sort of the next offer in the negotiation over this memorandum of understanding about the united
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states providing military support to israel. so it will not be -- there's a separate channel through which those negotiations continue to take place. but look it is an opportunity for vice president biden to go and continue to engage in the kinds of relationships that are important in that region of the world and important to our national security. >> and no announcements on the supreme court nominees today. >> you can relax for today. i do not anticipate an announcement today. andrew. >> on the netanyahu thing again. i think it was 2014 when netanyahu gave -- president and the oval office history in 2010 vice president was visiting the country and netanyahu -- major assessment plans, they waited to
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the trip to do that. you have the joint speech to the joint session last year. i'm struggling to understand how you don't consider this a lack of respect for the white house? >> well, i think primarily because, andrew, it's not as if the president has spent as much time talking and meeting with prime minister netanyahu as any other world leader. that speaks to the importance of the relationship between our two countries. it speaks to the president's commitment to continuing to have a very effective working relationship with our closest ally in the middle east. it speaks to the president's ongoing commitment to making sure that any personal differences of opinion don't interfere with our ability to continue to provide necessary support to israel. and there's nothing about the
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scheduling challenges that were encountered with this meeting. it's going to have an impact on any of that. and i think that's why i would make the case to you that certainly understandable that you guys are interested in this situation, but it doesn't have much of a tangible impact on the relationship between our two countries. >> well, that's of course means you can't get the mou done before the president leaves office. >> well, there has been -- well, let me say a couple things about that. the current mou i believe does not expire until 2019. so the president had made an offer in 2013 when he traveled to israel to extend the memorandum of understanding and provide the israeli government some certainty about the kind of support that they can count on from the united states. and that was a gesture intended to demonstrate not just this administration's commitment but this country's commitment to the long-term security interests of
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our allies in israel. and in some ways it will be up to the israelis to determine whether or not they want to benefit from that kind of certainty. but what's also true is there's a separate channel where these discussions about the memorandum of understanding are taking place. there are staff level discussions that have taken place both here in the united states and in israel on this topic. and it probably would have come up had prime minister netanyahu been at the white house on march 18th, but it shouldn't have any tangible impact on those ongoing discussions. after all, if there's a need for a presidential level conversation around the memorandum of understanding, then the president will just pick up the phone.
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>> if you were inviting someone to the house for dinner and they behaved like this, you would be quite reluctant to invite them back. do you think the president will invite netanyahu back to the white house before he leaves office? >> i wouldn't rule it out. i certainly wouldn't rule it out. ron. >> is this the last sort of high level meeting between the israelis and the united states administration with the vice president being there? you said you won't rule out another meeting. >> look, there's still 11 months to go in the obama administration, so, you know, given the pace of the meetings and conversations that both the president and the vice president have had with leaders of the israeli government, that's why i wouldn't rule out that the vice president's meeting is somehow the last one. >> answer the question about the peace talk process, the two-state solution, is that on the vice president's agenda in his talks? and where -- how would you
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characterize where that issue falls now? >> well, listen, as we've discussed before, it has been the longstanding policy of the united states that the tensions between the israelis and palestinians would be reduced by installing a peace process that results in a democratic and secure israel living side by side in peace and security with a viable, contiguous, viable, prosperous palestinian state. so the united states, again, pursuing a policy that has been in place since before president obama took office has sought to play a role in facilitating a resolution to that dispute. and this is what our -- this is what we've aimed for. and we haven't made a lot of progress. and that primarily is because the united states is not in a position where we can be ultimately making decisions for the two parties.
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it's going to be up to the israeli leaders and palestinian leaders to make some decisions. >> i think the president said some time ago this was not going to happen on his watch, is that -- >> what the white house has sort of acknowledged is given the current sort of state of things and given the approach leaders on both sides have taken to the issue recently, it seems rather unlikely that this kind of agreement could be reached in the next 10 or 11 months. >> nancy reagan's funeral, mrs. obama is going. can you tell us who else is going to be in the delegation? >> i don't have much more about the delegation at this point. the funeral has been scheduled for friday and mrs. obama will attend. >> the president will not attend? >> the president will not attend. the president actually is traveling in texas on friday. >> and lastly, on the supreme court. you can't say whether there have been any other interviews or meetings specifically, i think a lot of people are trying to find some reassurance that this process is going to be somewhat transparent -- >> i'm not sure if that's an assurance i can provide.
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i mean, i think that what we will be able to do is i think we can be transparent about how the president made the decision once he's made it. s and i think that means we will be able to talk in some detail about why the person that the president has chosen is the right person for the job. and we can certainly have a discussion about what kind of elements of that person's background, of their professional experience or educational experience, of their view of the law informed the president's thinking. but as the process is going on, this is one area where i cannot promise transparency. >> because given the unusual nature shall we say of the conflict that has arisen, does the administration feel there needs to be some further explanation to the american public about what role the president is playing in this, how, you know, you often talk about the number of policies made but not really what's been
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discussed or the extent to which names are shared. i think there's a feeling that people would like to know a little bit more about this given the high stakes in play here, the end of the administration, the balance -- isn't that a fair demand from the public? >> well, i think it is a fair demand. and i think in a lot of ways we've met it. the president wrote an op-ed posted on the scotus blog laying out the criteria he would use to consider nominees. we have talked at some length about the significant number of conversations that the president himself has had with members of the united states senate both democrat and republican, to fulfill his commitment to consult with the united states senate in advance of choosing a nominee. and i'm confident that once the president has made a decision, he'll be able to talk in more detail about why he chose the person that he did. and i think there understandably is interest in sort of how the horse race is playing out, but i
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don't anticipate that's something that we'll get into. but i would anticipate that we'll have ample time in this ring and maybe even over the summer talking about why the person that the president has chosen is the right person for the job and the best person for the job. [ inaudible question ] yeah, i noticed. >> is it fair to say the decision will not come while the canadian prime minister is here while the president is in texas? >> i can't rule out any other days but today beyond this point. angela. >> josh, turkey said this morning that prime minister erdogan will be coming to the u.s. dates look like they coincide with the nuclear security summit. can you confirm he will be here? >> i'm not aware of his travel plans, but i'll see if -- we'll take a look at it and see if we can confirm that for you. >> any questions about that visit? obviously another country with which the u.s. has had challenging relations. >> i just i'm not aware of mr. erdogan's travel schedule, so we'll look into it and get back to you. >> and following up on a question from yesterday's briefing. has the president sent in his
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absentee ballot yet for voting in the illinois democratic primary? >> that's a good question. i still don't know the answer to that, but let me look into it and see if we can get you an answer on that. >> and this will be malia's first year where she's old enough to vote. she'll be 18 by the general election which gives her a right to vote in the primary. do you know which state or district she may choose to vote in? >> i don't and i don't know that that's something we'll make public. suzan suzanne. >> my last question on scotus. number two republican in the senate and senator corden said anybody the president nominates the supreme court, quote, will bare some resemblance to a pinata. >> uh-huh. >> in light of this, does the president in choosing the nominee take into account any kind of extra preparation? is there anything that you guys are doing differently in light of the fact that it's going to be seen as so combative? is it somebody who might necessarily have been through kind of a difficult process? i mean, is there anything
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different this time around that it is so contentious there's anticipation that that's going to be the case? >> well, given that senator corden's language sounds like he might spend a little too much time watching donald trump rallies. my sense is is that this is not consistent with how most people that the supreme court process, the process of confirming a supreme court nomination should be handled. senator corden has now moved beyond the established republican position of suggesting that they won't even consider somebody who the president puts forward. that in and of itself was a rather unprecedented and unreasonable position. but the senator has now taken the next step and suggested without knowing who this nominee is, without considering what their record is, what their experience is, how qualified they are for the job, he's suggesting that they'll be
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subjected to bash iing by republicans. it's unclear for what reason other than the president of the united states has chosen to fulfill his constitutional responsibility to nominate someone to fill a vacancy. and i do think that it is an indication that republicans are digging in even further and in an unreasonable position of not giving that person any sort of fair hearing. and in fact vowing to try to tear this person down. and he's doing that even though he doesn't know who that person is yet. and, again, i just don't think that's how most people believe this process should work. >> does it give pause in terms of who he selects against coming up that kind of opposition or how they might handle it or be trained in handling this? >> no, it doesn't. the president has previously put forward two nominees to fill
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vacancies to the supreme court both in 2009 and 2010. both of those women were emin t eminently qualified. they had exactly the right kind of experience allowing them to serve with the honor and distinction to a lifetime appointment on the supreme court. they went through a rigorous process, and we do believe that this process should be rigorous, that these individuals should be engaged in conversations both publicly and privately with members of the united states senate who have a constitutional responsibility to consider their nomination. and i would expect that the hearing for the nominee that the president will put forward should get the same kind of hearing that both justice sotamayor and justice kagan did. those were scheduled at a relatively timely fashion, but they were also serious discussions about important precepts of the law. and those sessions were long.
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they were detailed. and some cases they were a little contentious. but in each case the justices, the nominees, were afforded their respective hearing and given the opportunity to answer those questions on live television under oath. and they performed well. in fact, they performed so well that both of them got bipartisan support for their nomination. that's what the process is supposed to look like. and the president will certainly fulfill his part of the bargain by choosing someone like justice sotomayor and justice kagan, someone eminently qualified and the question will be whether or not republicans will be able to fulfill their end of the bargain. in some ways this isn't a bargain, this actually is a constitutional duty that's expressly laid out in the constitution. >> and just back to iran, if you could clarify. their ballistic missile test you said was not a violation of a
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nuclear agreement? or is that what is under investigation? is there any movement for it to punish iran whether it's through targeted economic sanctions or some move through the united nations? >> right. it is. so to be clear about this, the missile test is not a violation of the joint comprehensive plan of action, this is the international agreement to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. and the reason why it's not a violation of that agreement is because that agreement specifically focused on preventing iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. and it required iran to curtail significant aspects of their nuclear program. what is under review is whether or not it is -- this specific launch is a violation of u.n. security council resolution 2231, and that's something -- that's what we need to learn more about the launch. and once we know more about the launch we can determine whether or not it would be necessary to bring the matter before the u.n.
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security council. >> it's premature to characterize it as trying to punish iran at this time? >> well, it certainly is possible that iran could face some consequences for carrying out this action. and we have demonstrated no reluctance to impose sanctions against iran for conducting ballistic missile tests that are outside of their international obligations. but at this point it's too early to determine whether or not that's exactly what's taken place here. so we'll take a look at the situation, and if we determine that a response is warranted then we'll pursue it. okay. all right. fred. >> thanks, josh. during the fox news forum -- asked
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[ inaudible ] she did say row v. wade not proficient but she also wanted to say that she has been on the record in late pregnancy violations -- [ inaudible ] >> fred, let me get back to you with a specific answer to that question based on a review of the policy we put forward on this. let me take a look at it and we'll get back to you. >> okay. and this came up yesterday regards the pending position on regarding isis. >> okay. >> the european union has already reached a decision based on the same -- approved in 1948.
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>> uh-huh. >> what -- if the u.s. is -- if the u.s. make a decision not -- almost be an outlier in making that decision. >> fred, because there's an ongoing process to take a close look at this and because state department attorneys understand how important this issue is, i don't want to say anything that presupposes an outcome one way or the other. and what i can tell you is that this is something that the state department is continuing to look at. but it certainly has not in any way delayed the administration from taking aggressive action to protect religious minorities that are being targeted by isil, including christians being targeted by isil in that part of the world. the determination is important and the process for reaching that determination is ongoing, but it's certainly not going to have any impact on the ability
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of the united states military or the willingness of the commander in chief of the united states armed forces to order military action against isil to try to protect religious minorities in that region of the world. >> do you think it doesn't matter necessarily? the u.s. taken the same action either way. >> these kinds of issues are quite serious. both from a moral perspective but also from a policy perspective. and that's why the state department has been so diligent in doing the necessary work to reach this determination. but when it comes to the kinds of steps that are necessary to try to protect religious minorities and ultimately to degrade and ultimately destroy a terrorist organization that targets religious minorities, i think the president's willingness to use military force against those terrorists has been unsparing and that will continue. okay. richard. >> josh, the prime minister and
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the visit. first question, we're being told that this relationship is important and great and the depth and breadth of the relationship is m÷h#ngood. it's the first official visit in 19 years. -- especially in the first -- last seven years of the administrati administration? >> well, prime minister harper, somebody who did frequently visit the white house and somebody on more than one occasion visited the white house and somebody who met frequently with president obama when they attended summits around the world. >> it's not an official visit -- >> that's true. it was different then. >> do you read anything into this? >> no, i wouldn't read anything into it. in fact, when i was asked about the ongoing campaign in canada, it was right after the results were announced that mr. trudeau had won, i noted the value that president obama had placed on his ability to work effectively
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with prime minister harper to further strengthen the relations between our two countries. and in fact we hoped and continue to hope that the president will be able to make even additional progress in strengthening that relationship by working closely with prime minister trudeau. and i think it is a good illustration of what we were talking about before as it relates to prime minister netanyahu. when it comes to the strongest allies of the united states, the relationships between our two countries transcend any sort of individual personal interactions. and that's the responsibility that you have when you assume the leadership of a country. i certainly know that mr. trudeau feels that way. >> can we see a moment when it clicked between the two, mr. obama and mr. trudeau in the philippines when they started talking on maybe environment and climate change issues. do you think there was at that
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moment something that maybe the administration is thinking it was time for an official visit? >> well, i think it was actually in that meeting that president obama invited prime minister trudeau to come to the white house for an official visit. so, look, i think this is a situation where the president recognized that obviously canada -- our relationship with canada is one of the most important relationships between any two countries in the world given our long border and given the size of our economies and the way that we work together in such a wide variety of areas. given that there was a new prime minister elected to lead the country, it only made sense to ensure that he was warmly welcomed here in washington on his first visit as prime minister of canada. the president is looking forward to the visit. >> and last question, on the refugees issue. has there been an exchange of
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information, a sharing of intelligence between the americans and the canadians when the canadians came up with this 25,000 refugee idea and the fact that finally they welcomed 25,000. but i mean, my question, let me rephrase it, to make sure that the screening process was as tight as the american one, or as tight as the american wanted it to be, has there been any information -- >> well, given the fact that the canadians were able to bring into their country so many people so quickly, i would be surprised if they were able to apply the same kind of strict screening standards that the united states has in place for refugees that enter the united states. but i'm not suggesting that somehow there is a flaw in the canadian process. i'm just suggesting it's different than the process that the united states has in place. and i'm confident there were extensive consultations between u.s. and canadian officials
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about a wide range of national security issues. there are on a regular basis, and obviously our ability to share that information with canada enhances the national security of both our countries. okay. margaret. >> josh, you shared with us yesterday that the president had made some phone calls to senators. i wanted to know if there was any further intel you could share with us maybe who he called? >> at this point i can't get into who the president called, but it is an indication of how committed he is to consulting with members of the united states senate even before making a decision about a nominee. i wouldn't rule out additional conversations with members of the senate prior to making a decision. but, you know, this is sort of something that continues to progress. you know, we've acknowledged before that while the president and his team are moving with a sense of urgency to make this decision, there still is and
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will be ample time for the united states senate to consider the president's nominee. you know, over the last 30 or 40 years the average time from nomination to confirmation vote has been 67 days. so the president will make a decision and he will do so leaving congress ample time to give his nominee the kind of consideration that every nominee in recent history has received. >> you've said in the past that about four to five weeks, 30 days roughly before a nominee was sent up, are you sticking with that timeframe? that was in play for the two previous vacancies. but i don't have any promises to make about what the timeframe will be for announcing this nominee. >> i mean, it is an unusual process, but you are still working within the guidelines that you can meet that same timeframe this time around?
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>> well, at this point -- yeah. look, even if we went beyond the four to five weeks for filling the vacancy, or the timeframe for filling the vacancy the last two times there was a vacancy, even if we went beyond that four or five weeks, there still would be ample time for congress to consider our nominee. again, the average period of time that it has taken nominees through the modern era over the last 30 or 40 years has been 67 days. it's just a couple of months. and so there's ample time for the senate to act and i'm confident that there will be even though i can't tell you precisely when the president will make a decision. >> and can you tell us there was a terror attack in israel. anything you can tell us including about reports that there was an american possibly injured? >> i've heard some of the news reports about this, but i'm not aware of the details.
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at this point -- let me repeat something that i have said on a number of occasions which is these kinds of attacks are outrageous. and are worthy of worldwide condemnation. you know, targeting innocent civilians is not at all appropriate, of course. and is entirely inconsistent wi with, you know, a recognition of the way that human beings relate to one another. even if they have significant differences of opinion. so, you know, we condemn this kind of attack in the strongest possible terms. and obviously wait for more information from israeli authorities before commenting further. >> but it's not changing anything in regard to the vice president's trip? >> i'm not aware this incident will have any impact on the vice president's trip. >> and lastly, on iran, the last
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time that they fired off ballistic missiles, the u.s. did move the treasury to take action. that was outside the u.n. security council. it was unilateral. is that something that's on the table this time, if you can confirm that they indeed what they said they did? >> well, we will take a look at the details of the launch to determine more about what happened. but i certainly wouldn't take a unilateral response from the treasury department off the table as a potential response. >> and you made the point that this is not a violation of the jcpoa, but the nuclear deal itself was backed up with u.n. security council resolutions. so if iran feels comfortable violating one, why would they not feel comfortable violating the rest of it? >> well, i guess the point is that they haven't. and the international community has inspectors in place to verify iran's ongoing compliance with the nuclear agreement. and there obviously are no
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guarantees that iran will fulfill their commitments, but we certainly will know if they don't. and that's because we do have the most intrusive set of inspections that have ever been imposed on a country's nuclear program that are now in place with respect to iran's program. that required them to cooperate with putting those inspections and those mechanisms in place to review not just their nuclear facilities but also -- or their enrichment facilities, but also as it relates to their nuclear stockpile and even things like uranium mines and uranium mills, you know, the effect iive chang to their plutonium reactor that essentially render it harmless when it comes to a nuclear weapons program. so there are a number of steps iran has already taken that we have confirmed that they have taken that essentially have stretched their breakout period to a year. and we have ongoing continuous
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monitoring of the iranian nuclear program to verify their compliance with the agreement. so you're right, there's a chance they may violate the terms of the agreement, but if they do, we'll know. and we'll have a number of options disposable in order to respond including potentially snapping back into place sanctions the united nations security council that actually brought them to the negotiating table the first time around. so that's the structure that we have put in place here, but obviously, you know, we take these reports of ballistic missile launch quite seriously. and, you know, i won't take any options off the table in terms of a potential response. the other element that's important here is the united states is going to continue to deepen our coordination with our other allies and partners in the region to try to counter iran's ballistic missile program. the truth is there already are, you know, other sanctions and prohibitions that are in place
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that are intended to mitigate or even limit iran's ballistic missile program. and we can -- we've acknowledged that there's more that we can do. we're working closely with our partners and allies to more effectively enforce those kinds of sanctions and prohibitions. >> the fact they feel comfortable firing off what could be a delivery mechanism for a warhead, i mean, that's why you're concerned about ballistic missiles in the first place. >> it is. >> you don't see as a loophole the fact there aren't further restrictions on this and they can violate the restrictions that are in place? >> well, as you pointed out, the previous violation did yield a response from the united states that was pretty significant. and, you know, we'll determine what sort of response is appropriate in this scenario. but i do think it actually underscores how important it is for us to continue to implement the international agreement to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon because, as you
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point out, those -- if iran does not have a nuclear weapon to put in the nose cone of a ballistic missile, that certainly enhances the security of our allies and partners in the region but also enhances the national security of the united states. okay. rich. >> josh, are there any expectations that the vice president and the israeli government would discuss two-state process at all while he's there, or has it just reached a point that the administration i don't want to say has given up on but pessimistic about the chances that anything can be done in the next 11 months that there are no expectations on this? >> look, i wouldn't rule it out as i observed prior to the vice president's visit, you know, it's any u.s. leader who goes to the region and meets with both israelis and palestinians, it's hard to avoid any conversation of the relationship between the israelis and palestinians.
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so i wouldn't be surprised if that came up in his conversations. it's not as if however though that the vice president is bringing a specific plan or specific proposal for consideration by the two sides. but there's certainly a chance it would come up in these conversations, i think it's likely. >> is there considering a change in approach and a journal reported last evening perhaps you were considering supporting a u.n. security council resolution mandating both sides compromise on key issues. is that something that you're looking at? >> well, you know, what's true is that a two-state solution being the best outcome for our allies in israel is a policy that has not been pursued just by the obama administration but actually was pursued by the bush administration too. so, you know, there's bipartisan precedent for this policy. and this is a policy that we pursue because we believe it would diffuse tensions in the
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region and enhance national security of our closest ally in the middle east. so what we envision is a democratic and secure israel living side by side in peace and security with a viable and contiguous palestinian state. that has been a policy goal that we have long promoted. and at various times we've particularly secretary kerry have engaged in intensive diplomacy to try to bring the two sides together around a solution that looks like that. unfortunately, the conditions have not been right for the leaders of both sides to make the kinds of commitments that would be necessary to yield that result. and for all of our passion, for reaching that kind of an agreement, these are not decisions that the united states can make for either side. ultimately it's the leader of israel and the leader of the palestinian people that will have to make the tough decisions
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that would lead to an agreement. and thus far those sides have not been willing to make those kinds of commitments and reach that kind of agreement. >> so was the security council resolution be prodding them be something you look at? >> well, what we have acknowledged is that, you know, our policy when it relates to u.n. resolutions has not changed. you know, we obviously will consider future engagement if and when we reach that point. as it relates to determining how to most effectively advance the objective we all share in achieving a negotiated two-state solution, but what you've also heard me say from here on a number of occasions is that the united states will continue to oppose one-sided resolutions that seek to marginalize or even delegitimize israel. and our preference has always been for diplomatic negotiations
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that include the two sides sitting down face-to-face. and that that's more likely to lead to the kind of solution that we've long advocated. >> last evening at the kennedys forum former secretary of state hillary clinton said we need more competition in the health care marketplace. she said we need to get more companies, more nonprofits to fill that space. and she said a lot of them, i assume she was referring to the health care cooperatives, have failed because they didn't have the right support. is there anything the administration is looking at with the 11 remaining health care cooperativecooperatives? does the administration think that it made any mistakes in administering those co-ops that fail? >> well, rich, one of the core principles of obamacare because it was modeled after a plan that was put forward by the
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conservative heritage foundation, was actually trying to force greater competition in the health care market. and that by fostering a competition on a level playing field, we can encourage more health more health care companies to get in and compete for people's business. and obamacare is actually succeeded in doing that. we have seen that over the three years that obamacare has been implemented that we have seen steady growth in the average number of plans that are available in each market. i'm speaking off the top of my head but i think that the first year the average was seven. the next year it rose to eight and then this past year there were an average of nine plans competing in each market across the country. so that is an indication that we are seeing increased competition. the reason that's good news is it means there are more companies come peetding for the business of consumers and that's going to have both -- put upward pressure on benefits as the health care companies compete for business and also put downward pressure on prices.
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and that's what we have seen. that's a good thing. and that is part of -- that is certainly contributed to the slowest growth in health care costs in recorded american history. since the affordable care act went into effect so all that is a good thing and i think what secretary clinton is observing is that we need to built on that progress and we need to look for additional ways that we can encourage organizations, whether they're co-ops or, you know, private companies that provide health care services, that they're out there competing for that business and the more competition the better it will be for consumers and this is not some wild left wing philosophy. this is actually a central tenet of market-based solutions that republicans have long championed. that's what makes it a little awkward this they keep
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criticizing this proposal. at least it made it a whole lot more awkward for the last republican nominee for president to criticize the proposal. but look. that's, you know, secretary clinton is giving voice to something that the administration has believed coming to the value of increasing that competition. >> those health care cooperatives, more than health failed. >> there's a specific issue coming to these specific co-ops created as a result of the law but even in the markets where they operated, we have seen, you know, you know, a commitment on the part of those administering markets to facilitate greater competition. creating t creating t creating the co-ops was one way to do that. we're open to encourage other entities, private or public to get engaged in the process. again, in a position of competing for the business of private citizens, that's going
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to have a positive benefit for families across the country in terms of better benefits and lower costs. jordan. >> thanks, josh. a new report out today shows the number of former guantanamo detainees suspected of reengaging in terrorism doubled from six to 12 in the final six months of last year, i wonder if you have seen that report and whether that's caused the administration to re-evaluate the strategy of transferring detainees. >> i have been briefed on the report. i haven't seen it myself. the conclusion is the percentage of gitmo detainees confirmed to have reengaged in the fight is below 5%, a testament to the kind of policy that is this administration put in place on the president's second day in office to carefully review on a case by case basis the status of individual detainees and to make careful decisions about what
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sort of security measures could be put in place if they were transferred to other countries. and, you know, the fact that number is below 5% for people to confirm to reengage is success of the policies. coming the people suspected or having reengaged, the only reason to suspect it is because of we have insight into what they're doing and taking a look at based on the security measures at the activities and their actions and their engagements with other people. so these are individuals that continue to be monitored and we have mechanisms in place, again, to mitigate the risk they pose to the american people. so, you know, we believe that the policy that we have pursued is consistent with the broader national security goals that the president's outlined on many occasions. >> the report also says, though, that some detainees determined to reengage will so regardless
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of the conditions. the risk is still there. i'm wondering if there's anything to tighten the conditions and anything in light of the report of how you're carrying out the transfers. >> in each case, the united states will negotiate with each country to determine the security measures to put in place to mitigate the risk they pose to the united states and the secretary of defense has to sign off on each individual detainee based on the security precautions in place to limit that person's ability to reengage in the fight. so, you know, that's a pretty high standard. certainly one gives the president confidence that pursuing this path and pursuing this policy is the right thing for our national security. okay? scott, i'll give you the last one. >> josh -- [ inaudible ] u.s. air strike may have killed an isis leader. do you have any confirmation? >> i, at this point, i'm not in a position to confirm that but i
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would refer you to the department of defense. but there are a couple of things i can share with you that are related here. i will note that in recent weeks isil has suffered a series of strategic defeats in and around shadati, syria. the president's special envoy was here in the briefing room a few weeks ago. and discussed a very complex operation that's being run by syrian democratic forces that is an important part of our strategy for cutting off isil's connections over the iraq/syria border between mosul and raqqah. i know that some of those reports related to activity that may have taken place around shadati. another point to make here is that u.s. forces who are conducting the advise and assist mission with those syrian democratic forces have noticed an increase in diversity of the
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force, based on smaller forces coming to volunteer and joining the syrian democratic forces. the sdf as it's called has transformed from a primarily kurdish force to a group that is 40% arab, asyrian, christian and others. operations around shadati a good example of how the sdf operates effectively with the recruits in the organization. i think it's also a testament to the kind of progress that's now tangible on the ground. that as other fighting forces recognize the progress that's being made by syrian democratic forces that are benefiting from the advice and assistance of u.s. forces that more are joining them. and we have made clear that building the capacity of forces on the ground in syria to fight for their own country is a critical part of our strategy. and to see those forces become
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more effective, while also becoming more diverse is an important positive sign about the trajectory of our strategy there. so, i know it's a little different than the specific operational question you asked but i'd refer you to d.o.d. for more information about that operation. okay? thanks, everybody. we'll see you tomorrow. >> press secretary josh earnest finishing the briefing with reporters and as always it's available online at and the hill reporting a short time ago and as you heard josh earnest address in this briefing a number of guantanamo bay detainees after being released by president obama, doubled from 6 to 12 in the 6 months through january according to data released by the administration. in addition, one more former
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detainee released under george w. bush is spicketed of rejoining the fight. overall 118 of the 676 prisoners released under both presidents are confirmed to have participated in terrorism while another 86 are suspected. report also says that some of those still held at guantanamo could return to terrorism if released in the future. you can read more about this at canadian prime minister trudeau meeting with president obama later this week and hosting the canadian leader at a state dinner this coming thursday. government officials will talk about the state of u.s./canadian relations with politico reporters live later today, it starts at 5:30 eastern. you can watch this on c-span. as campaign 2016 continues, three primaries and one caucus are taking place today with special focus on michigan and mississippi join us for live
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coverage of the election results, candidate speeches and view reaction. on the road to the white house, on c-span, c-span radio and and now energy secretary ernest moniz testifies about his department's 2016 budget. up 10% from last year. the secretary talked about the importance of investing in clean energy, calls it an enormous opportunity for american innovation and the economy. also addressed threats against the nation's power grid and the possibility of expanding the nation's transformer reserve. >> good morning. the committee will come to order. we are here to consider the budget. this is the second of our three budget hearings before our committee. our final hearing on the budget will examine the forest service budget scheduled for next tuesday. secretary, it's good to have you
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before the committee. i want to again thank you for traveling to bethel, alaska, and to oscarville with myself and ranking member and four other members of the committee. it was a great field hearing, but we really appreciate that you took the time to see the need, the opportunity, and also, the progress that we're making on energy innovation in rural alaska. the buzz is still going around the tundra there about the visit that was had. and the interest that was given to the region. so, we appreciate what you have done there. we also appreciate the effort that you make to work with us, looking forward to your testimony today. no surprise to you, but i have been critical of much of the president's overall budget request, including his proposed $10.25 per barrel tax for oil that would hurt families, businesses and our broader economy. the president's budget again
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features tax hikes, increases and other policies that will only make our primary energy industries, oil, natural gas and coal, less productive. despite totaling $4.1 trillion, the president's budget also cuts the base funding for liheap, the low-income home energy assistance program, which helps thousands of alaskan families stay warm in the cold months. these are a few of my general criticisms of the president's budget request. the reason we have hearings like this is so we can take a closer look, see if there are some things we might be able to work together on within specific areas. to your credit, secretary moniz, the budget for department of energy has plenty that i think fits into that category. so i thank you for that. but i also think that it is a tribute to your leadership and to your efforts to improve your department's performance in a cooperative as well as a bipartisan manner. as you know, sometimes we don't
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always agree but you have always given me the courtesy of an outreach and a conversation, and i appreciate that. as i mentioned, this is not the budget for the department of energy that i would write. i think it only partially adheres to the balanced energy policy that most of us agree on with significant increases for efficiency and -- vehicle and renewable technologies, but a cut proposed for fossil r & d, and the work that we should be doing to help methane hydrates. i have got some questions that i will ask about the mandatory spending that the budget prop e proposes. but here's the good news. even in the instances where, again, we may initially disagree, i know that you're going to work with us to find some common ground. when it comes to the importance of innovation in america's future, particularly america's energy future, i know you and i are on the same page even if our numbers don't necessarily align. i think the ultimate goal is there. so thank you. appreciate the opportunity to work with you, and we look forward to your presentation.
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with that, senator cantwell. >> thank you, madame chair. thank you to the secretary for being here at today's hearing. i am very pleased to see that this year's 2017 budget request continues to push for investments necessary for building the future of our economy through science and clean energy. the budget requests greater funding and overall 10% increase for d.o.e. in fiscal year 2017 is appreciated. total budget request is $2.9 billion more than enacted in fiscal year 2016. this increase builds on the successful investments at d.o.e. under your leadership. we thank you for that. in particular investments in science and energy have grown
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15% over just the 5 five years, acknowledging the crucial role that innovation plays in enhancing our energy security, mitigating and adapting to climate change, boosting manufacturing competitiveness and creating jobs. this budget takes a big step forward in fulfilling the u.s. pledge to double federal clean energy research and development over investment over the next five years as part of mission innovation. in november 2015, president obama and other global leaders announced the creation emission innovation. this initiative is made up of 20 countries that have committed to doubling the research and development funding over 5 years in an effort to spur clean energy innovation. budget request details of the proposal would increase federal investment from $6.4 billion in fiscal year 2016 to $12 billion in fiscal year 2021. the budget make it is administration's commitment clear by providing $7.7 billion for fiscal year '17 and funding of clean energy r & d across 12
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agencies is roughly 20% above fiscal year 2016. but what is also key to this effort and success is partnerships with the private sector. at the same time the administration announced mission innovation, private sector initiative of innovation was also announced and the breakthrough energy coalition led by bill gates is made up of 29 investors from 10 countries that have committed to significant increases in the amounts of capital in what will be focused on early stage innovation, clean energy technologies. these partnerships will help entrepreneurs translate investments in fundamental science, applied research and development ranging from everything in smart buildings to energy storage, to grid modernization, to the new kinds of products and services that help build strong companies and boost america's competitiveness. along these lines i want to mention proposal including the d.o.e. budget to establish clean energy innovation partnerships around the country. it's a new proposal, secretary moniz, and we have discussed
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this, among you and i, among -- along with our colleagues about the potential advantages of this. the goal of these partnerships is to accelerate the pace of clean energy innovation and address clean energy challenges, specifically to energy resource, customer needs, innovation capabilities and regions around the country. just to be clear, this isn't about new physical infrastructure. this is about partnerships. this is about regional initiatives that help us move faster. i would like to say it's almost as if it is distributed innovation. we have expertise in universities and research centers across the nation. i know for us in the pacific northwest, the fact that the faa built a center of excellence on composite manufacturing, took advantage of the industry that was there in aerospace, the research that was done at the university of washington and the research capabilities of the federal government allowed us to
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move faster in something that was game changing aerospace manufacturing to building lighter and more fuel-efficient planes. that's the kind of innovation we would like to see in other key sectors. i just want to say a few words about the d.o.e. science budget as the office of sciences is the single largest sponsor of basic research and the physical sciences supporting over 24,000 investigators at over 300 u.s. academic institutions and d.o.e. laboratories, it also plays an important, sometimes under-appreciated role in climate science as it relates to developing expertise, computing capabilities and data necessary to understand the carbon cycle and the fiscal year budget request of $5.67 billion for the office of science, which is 325 above the 2016 level. this investment, i believe, allows d.o.e. to do the basic research in physical science, operate cutting edge user abilities while advancing technology and innovation.
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this funding supports initiatives like the energy frontier centers, the bioenergy research centers and advanced computing research. i also am pleased to see the request for the energy efficiency renewable increase by 40% because building efficiency for fiscal year 2017, having a bump is particularly important. because they're really emphasizing new technologies, increasing software, sensors, control technologies and everything that will make the building system itself smarter. why is this so important? we spend $400 billion each year to power our homes and commercial buildings in the united states. that is more than 40% of our nation's total energy bill and basically comprises 40% of the nation's carbon pollution. so getting smarter about the intelligence of the physical structures that are consuming energy is a very good investment for our nation. leveraging the new smart buildings technology could help
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us cut energy use in buildings by another 20% while the global market for these technologies is extremely lucrative opportunity for the united states, somewhere between $7 billion and $17 billion. so the united states being a leader here could help pay off significantly. there is an area of the budget i am concerned about. and the president's proposal on the hanford budget. i was certainly relieved to see that the proposed budget will allow for continued progress on the construction of waste treatment immobilization plant and continue the stewardship of the tank farms. but so my colleagues just continue to have this focus of what is a national priority. the hanford clean-up project is still one of the largest clean-up projects in the entire world. i know a lot of my colleagues are familiar with the budget as it relates to clean-up projects
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around the country, and we've had some success in areas, but nothing compares to the task at hand at hanford. it is estimated to cost us, the u.s. government, another $107 billion to finish this clean-up. so this is a massive task and a massive undertaking so proper funding also enables that we will continue to make sure that worker safety is a top priority. these people are doing an incredible job, doing the clean-up, which is a monumental task, but also, doing it in a safe and secure manner. i know, secretary moniz, you know the complex challenges of cleaning up at hanford and how much is left yet to tackle. i'm concerned about the implications of the current budget on the clean-up effort. the department of energy richland office has done an incredible job of
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decontaminating and demolishing and removing waste. and basically, remediating the river corridor. so, to date, 324 of the 332 buildings have been decontaminated and demolished and 115 million tons of hazardous waste has been moved away from the colombia river. i invite any of my colleagues to visit both the history of our nation here as well as the cleanup effort. we welcome them. 574 of the 580 waste sites along the river have been remediated and all the regulatory milestones have been completed on time and ahead of schedule. but i'm afraid that the richland office has been somewhat of a victim of its own success, especially judging from the $190 million proposed cut to fy 2017. the tri-cities community and i visit this as a significant risk to the public, the funding shortfall endangers the progress
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continued and the need more maintenance of infrastructure, specifically this issue of groundwater contamination. the completion of 618 waste site remediation of building 324, which is highly contaminated, and only a few, just a few yards away from the columbia river. these projects are important. and technically demanding. so the notion that we're dealing with groundwater remediation so close to the columbia river for the focus of the tri-cities, we want to do more, and not worry about cutback from success. we know this is technically challenging clean-up work. we know how important it is for to us continue to move forward. so i look forward to having that discussion with you during the q&a and just want to also say that i'm concerned with the proposed $130 million overall cut to some of the non-proliferation programs.
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your tremendous work working on the iran nuclear agreement was a great milestone. but it's clear the department of energy will continue to play a leading roll in the safeguard technologies that support global materiel strategy and certain support the grid modernization increase and thank you for the focus on energy storage. so thank you, madam chair, and i look forward to hearing the secretary's comments. >> thank you, senator cantwell. secretary, moniz, nice to have you before the committee. i'm going to offer apologies on behalf of committee members. i know there's a lot going on this morning. we started our hearing just a little bit earlier to try to accommodate it, but if you see people popping in and out, it's not because of lack of interest in the department of energy. it's just a lot of conflicting priorities. thank you for being here and if you would please proceed. >> well, thank you, chairman
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murkowski and ranking member cantwell and members of the committee. actually, it's good to see many of you from our trip a few weeks ago in alaska which was really excellent, and i found extremely educational. so, thank you for that field hearing. turning to the budget, as was already said, the budget request for fy-'17 is for $32.5 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding. an increase of 10%. from the fy-'16 appropriation. first, i do want to emphasize that the request for the annual appropriations is $30.2 billion which is a 2% increase over fy-'16 appropriations and, in fact, 2% also applies to the national security programs and to the domestic programs at the department. this 2% increase is supplemented by a request totaling 2.3 billion in new mandatory spending authority.
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that mandatory spending proposal includes $750 million for 3 different r&d activities which i'd be happy to discuss, of course, and $674 million for uranium enrichment d & d, the latter from the usec fund. the $1.6 billion -- i do want to emphasize that $1.6 billion usec fund is an existing not new mandatory spending account and our proposal is in keeping of the spirit of the still current authorization that revenues from the beneficiaries of past uranium enrichment services, rather than taxpayers at large, be used to pay the cost of d & d of the now shuttered facilities. and indeed, in 2000 congress the usec fund to support portsmouth and paducah d & d.
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and the usec fund is actually only one of three funds totaling nearly $5 billion that exists that are applicable to this cleanup problem of uranium enrichment d & d. finally, i do want at least in passing to acknowledge which is very important that underpinning all of our priorities is stewardship of the department as a science and technology powerhouse for the country with an unparalleled network of 17 national laboratories. and i can assure you, and there have been recent reports, that we are working very hard. we have been for several years, to strengthen the strategic relationship between the department and our national laboratory network. i also just want to mention that we continue with the strong emphasis on cross-cutting r&d initiatives. these have been extremely successful in our view and our major focus -- the biggest increases in this budget in thek crosscuts is for grid modernization and for the energy/water nexus and, of course, we also continue a very
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important crosscut in terms of advanced computation particularly the movement to exit scale computing in the next decade to do everything from nuclear weapons to energy technologies to cancer solutions. the supporting budget details for each of these is provided in an extensive statement for the record which i request to be inserted into the record, and i will just turn in the remaining time to some comments on mission innovation and why it merits your support. senator cantwell already gave quite a bit of detail about mission innovation in which 20 countries, including, of course, the united states, seeks to double our energy r&d over a five-year period. i want to emphasize those countries represent over 80%, approximately 85%, of global public energy r&d, so this is a big leveraging opportunity in terms of raising the level of
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global energy r&d. we believe mission innovation is long overdue. in 2010, the american energy innovation council composed of ceos of some of our major companies from multiple sectors recommended that the government triple investment in clean energy r&d. they made three key points. one, the innovation is the essence of america's strength. two, public investment is critical to generating the discoveries and inventions that form the basis of disruptive energy technologies. and third, the costs of our d & d, are tiny when compared to the benefits. the pledge to seek to double the level of government investment is ambitious but needed. as you know, bill gates a leader of the aeic has recently met with a number of members and made public statements reiterating the importance of increasing government-sponsored energy r & d. the objective of mission innovation is to greatly expand the suite of investable opportunities in clean energy
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technology, and certainly, with the growth we are already seeing in the -- in global clean energy technology markets and in the united states, as well, and the expectation that that will accelerate in the wake of the commitment by essentially every country in the world to meet -- to meet their nationally determined contributions means this is indeed an enormous opportunity for american innovation and american -- and the american economy. the scope i want to emphasize the scope of mission innovation does span the innovation cycle from the earliest stages of invention through initial demonstration with a focus, a weighting, towards the earlier stages of r&d. it also spans all clean energy supply-and-demand technologies and the infrastructure that enables those technologies to contribute. as already stated, mission innovation is complemented by
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the breakthrough energy coalition spearheaded, again, by bill gates. i just want to emphasize here another leveraging opportunity. billions of dollars of global private capital coming to the table with exceptional risk tolerance, exceptional patience for return on their investment, and a willingness for the leading technologies to go end to end all the way to deployment. so, we think this is a tremendous opportunity for our country. i just want to make a couple of words, if i may, on clean energy innovation -- on regional clean energy innovation partnerships. again, in our field hearing in alaska we certainly saw how different parts of the country have very, very different regional needs. these i want to emphasize would be not-for-profit consortia competitively selected to manage a regional clean energy r&d portfolio, and they would not be
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performers. they would be managers of this portfolio addressing regional needs through, presumably, mainly at least, through regional institutions. this approach tracks recommendations from the national research council's rising to the challenge, which noted that, quote, until very recently u.s. federal agencies have done little to support state and regional innovation cluster initiatives. and they recommended and, again, quote, that regional innovation cluster initiatives by state and local organizations should be assessed and where appropriate provided with greater funding and expanded geographically. so, i think these initiatives, both this initiative, is very much in line with what has been a longstanding desire expressed by the private sector and the research community. the mission innovation budget we should emphasize does also, of course, support increased investments in successful ongoing innovation programs,
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many involving the national labs, but such as rpe, energy frontier research centers in the science office, advanced manufacturing centers, bioenergy centers, advanced transportation, advanced nuclear reactor technologies, advanced carbon capture technologies to name a few. with that, madam chair, i would conclude my summary. thank the subcommittee for its interest and support for our programs and look forward to our discussion. >> thank you, mr. secretary, and i appreciate you highlighting some of the things that we've been working on several years ago when we introduced the energy 2020 and brought up for discussion at that point the energy/water nexus and the priority. and so, it's good to see the department taking that and running with it as you have mentioned, also highlighting that the public/private partnerships that mr. gates is leading up, the opportunity that many of us on this committee have had to sit down with him as
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well as you for further discussion. so, we appreciate that. i want to go a little more parochial and do my first round of questions focused on alaska-specific initiatives, and again, thank you for coming to bethel. thank you for your commitment to try to make a difference out in places where there is no -- is no energy grid so to speak. you mentioned at our field hearing that you recognize that the d.o.e. office of indian energy was understaffed and that you were intending to add new staff members to the alaska office. can you give me any update when we might expect to see additional staff put in place there? >> yes. well, we have the job description posted for the first of those -- first of those positions, and i'm certainly looking to get at least two positions filled in the next, say, half year. but we'd like to get people there as soon as we can.
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and we have to go through a process obviously of advertising and competing. we'd also hope and, frankly, you could help make sure that we have an excellent applicant pool from alaska itself because local knowledge can only -- can only help be most effective. >> well, we want to work with you on that because we, too, thinks that needs to be a priority. there are those who lived and worked and raised their families in the region and know some of the challenges, but also how we can overcome it. >> and may i add? >> yes. >> the evident innovation that's been displayed already in the state. >> absolutely. absolutely. thank you for recognizing that. i want to ask more specific to the issue of micro grids themselves, and you heard from our alaskan expert gwen haldman there at the university of alaska center for energy and power. recognizing that we have these
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islanded systems then in alaska, what are your views on the department possibly changing the definition of micro grids to recognize that these systems in rural alaska that are independent and not part of anybody else's grid are also a form of micro grid? because we've come up with some definitional challenges here. >> i will look in to whether there is a precise definitional issue in the department, but i can assure you, we are and will looking at both grid-connected micro grids and complete off-grid micro grids. in fact, we are funding the alaska micro grid partnership with three remote communities there. we have also have our national labs working on a design support tool for micro grids that will be -- you know, work with the alaska -- of course, we all know and fairbanks in particular, there's a very strong energy research center.
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so, we are working on isolated micro grids. indeed, the -- as you use the word island, and, in fact, two years ago we produced a document on island energy systems that we are -- that is drawn from experience in hawaii. it's being applied in the caribbean and many of the same physical features in effect occur in alaska. >> well, let's work on that one because if there is something we need to correct, we'd like to do that with you. >> okay. >> as we were saying hello here before the committee began, we discussed very briefly the d.o.e. award that went to the village of egiagit and what they are doing within their river system to generate marine hydrokinetic energy. it's really quite exciting, and i appreciate the department stepping up and helping to facilitate that.
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the office of water and power, though, appears to be emphasizing wave power research and demonstration projects over current projects, over tidal power technologies. is that somehow purposeful? when you look at the budget, that's one of the conclusions that you're left to draw. and we think that given what we have with the kuskokwim and the yukon, you saw the kuskokwim when it was frozen solid but it's moving under there. being able to harness our rivers as well as 33,000 miles of coastline is something we're very interested in. but am i incorrect somehow in my observation that the emphasis seems to be on wave power research? >> well, we do have programs across all of the hydrokinetic and wave power. i will look more closely at that
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in terms of the balance of tidal to be honest. >> look at the funding because that's what got our attention. >> but may i just add, the alaska project with the turbine and i will not attempt to pronounce the name of the village, but i think it's been a tremendous success. it was already pulled out and re-optimized which gave a tremendously better performance. in its second year it significantly cut diesel fuel use there and so now with this new grant it will be taking advantage of that designing something which could be placed in a number of -- of course, a number of other locations as well. >> it is really exciting. thank you for recognizing that. >> yeah. >> senator cantwell had to go off to another committee, so
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let's turn to senator heinrich. >> thank you, very much, madam chair. secretary moniz, i'm very pleased to see your continued focus on getting w.h.i.p. reopened and i want to thank you for the focus that d.o.e. has put on safety throughout that entire process. i just want to ask you, are you on schedule and are there any budget or schedule issues that should concern me at this point? >> senator heinrich, we believe we are on schedule for safely restarting operations late -- >> december? >> -- later this year, exactly, yes. and the budget request for fy-'17 is on track for our program, right. >> adequate. fantastic. >> we will, as you know, down the road need more capital funding for the full ventilation system for full-scale operations at the beginning of the next decade. >> we look forward to working with you on that. switching to los alamos real quick, i was hoping you could talk a little bit about why we don't have a current consent order in place with the state to be able to guide budgeting and spending issues, as well as just
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what priority updating that consent order has with the department of energy. >> no, it's very important. and that is under very active negotiation with the state, and we are hoping that in the reasonably near future that will be completed at least -- at least for comment and that we will then be in a position to adjust appropriately our long-range cleanup plan. >> great. as you know, i've for a long time been a champion of efforts to improve tech transfer from our labs as an engine of domestic economic development. i'm really pleased with the small business voucher initiative from your office of technology transitions, and also, the recent technology commercialization fund. however, i understand that there may be some issues with the cost-sharing requirement? and i wanted to see if you could
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talk a little bit about what those issues are and what we can do to help solve some of that. >> well, first, may i say -- and i appreciate your interest and that of a few other members in terms of the tech transfer business, and i would just say that there was quite a few initiatives, including establishing the ott, the fund. we've also established within that office an energy investment center. we just hired an excellent person in january to head that. so, i think -- i think it's certainly been elevated in the -- in the visibility. >> and we appreciate that very much. i think a lot of people are excited about those efforts. >> good. with regard to the fund, yeah, i think our interpretation is that we need kind of 50/50 cost sharing there. but certainly, more flexibility is -- i mean, would always frankly be welcome. i mean, we as you know in various of our programs there are some cases sometimes in
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which 20% cost sharing is called for versus 50%, so that's certainly something we'd be happy to work with you on that. >> i look forward to that. and if there are specifically authorization issues -- >> yes. >> -- language issues that we can work with you, we're happy to do that. >> could be helpful. >> obviously, d.o.e.'s battery storage hub is now in its fourth year. and i -- you know, if you look at the storage market broadly in this country, i think i saw a headline this morning that said it grew something like 243% last year. obviously, starting from a very small place but growing incredibly quickly. this is going to be a critical link in the evolution of the grid from sort of the centralized grid that my dad knew as a lineman to the distributed structure that we see more and more around the country. are there advanced battery chemistries beyond the lithium ion chemistry that we're all familiar with that are under development that might meet
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future cost and energy goals? what are you seeing within that program that's exciting -- that's exciting to you at this moment? >> well, i think the -- first of all the jcs are a hub i think has been doing very, very well. and as you say, actually in their first five-year period will end at the end of 2017, so we will soon be getting into the kind of reviews to talk about potential extension. the hub is working both on grid scale and on transportation batteries. on the transportation side, the principal activity is on lithium sulfur, and they've made some excellent progress. by the way, and the goals are basically five times the energy density at one-fifth the cost. and by the way, as you said, i want to emphasize that this is one of the areas -- and there are others. i love driverless vehicles as an interesting thing. but the point is, in these
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cases, including storage, they're coming at us much faster than people thought, and i think it's not always recognized. so, on the grid side, the main activity is on some of the flow batteries, where you use liquids instead of solid electrodes. another chemistry being looked at is magnesium, and the idea -- sorry for the technical word, but it's the ire valence opportunity, which can greatly increase the energy density. so, it's a variety of issues that jcs are -- i do want to emphasize that in addition to that hub, of course, i think -- i'm not sure. i think we have about $225 million in various programs addressing energy storage. it's a game changer, and the costs have come down, let's say, for vehicle batteries by 70% in the last six or seven years. again, i think people are not internalizing all of this.
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and you're seeing more and more storage introduced on the grid, for example. you're seeing novel uses of, let's say, used vehicle batteries coming in for voltage support in grids. so, a lot is happening. and when that penetrates to the consumer end, i think we will see another -- another big shift. >> thank you, secretary. >> thank you. senator barrasso. >> thank you, madam chairman. mr. secretary, good to see you again. i just noticed on friday "the wall street journal" had a front page story and it was entitled "europe energy escape valve, u.s. gas." so the escape valve for europe for energy is u.s. gas. the gulf coast exports are expected to loosen russia's grip on the market. that's the sub headline. we talked about this. the article discusses the first shipment of liquefied natural gas from the continental united states that took place last wednesday. it explains that exports of u.s. liquefied natural gas will give countries like lithuania, poland, bulgaria, greater political independence from russia.
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as one lithuanian mayor put it, it's more than just about gas. it's about freedom. the article goes on to cite that deutsche bank estimates the u.s. could catch up with russia as europe's biggest gas supplier within a decade. with each nation controlling about a fifth of the market. it's not going to be easy. russia controls about a third of europe's market right now, and it may wage a price war, i read, to maintain its share of the market. iran is also interested in exporting lng to europe. senator cantwell mentioned your role in the negotiations with iran in january. "the wall street journal" also ran a story front page of the business section, "iran seeks ways to ship out gas as sanctions ease." so, that article explains that iran may be able to export lng to europe within two years. i'm concerned that europe may develop a dependency on iranian gas as it tries to reduce its
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imports from russian gas. that's why i believe it's critical that we continue to make u.s. liquefied natural gas available on the world market. so, the question is, will you commit to acting promptly on lng export applications for the remainder of this administration? >> yes, we have, and we will. if i may add a comment -- >> please? >> -- because i completely share your interest and the importance of natural gas diverse supply for europe. first of all, i would question that two years. i think that's not very likely, to be honest. but i want to emphasize that in addition to u.s. lng, southern corridor, bringing caspian gas is well under way. we have supported that, and frankly, directly been helping some of the conversations there. but also, we're very encouraged at the prospects of eastern mediterranean gas, cyprus,
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israel, et cetera, and there's an interesting question of turkey, egypt going on. as an aside, i'll be in israel beginning of april and be able to discuss some of that gas development there, as well. >> the two-year idea came because the sanctions against iran had stopped the construction of their lng facilities. they have huge resources of natural gas and their thought was in terms of the just renewing the construction that they could actually within two years get things going. but along the line that you've been talking about in terms of other sources, i'd like to turn to the nordstream 2 pipeline which is one of those potential sources. this project as you know would run from russia under the baltic sea directly to germany and the nordstream 2 would follow the original pathway and significantly boost russia's gas exports to germany. so, russia playing an additional role. ten european countries, mostly from eastern europe, are asking the european union to block this project.
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these conditions believe this nordstream 2 would undermine sanctions on russia, increase russia's political leverage over eastern europe. it's estimated this pipeline would cost ukraine about $2 billion annually in natural gas transit fees that they would lose. last week, richard morningstar, former u.s. ambassador to the european union, said it's a bad idea, the nordstream 2, and went on to say, if you want to kill europe's lng strategy go ahead with nordstream 2. put much more dependent on russia. to date germany's chancellor angela merkel has kind of defended the project. we discussed this issue last october in the committee. since then i have heard very little from top-ranking administration officials. does the administration have a plan to stop this project? and if so, what is it? >> well, clearly, this is in the end is a european decision. i would note that the european commission has certainly emphasized the diversity of
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supply, and this project would do nothing to increase diversity of supply. it may even, as you said, may even strengthen -- >> add more dependence on russia? >> correct. it certainly is a geopolitical tool as well in terms of eastern europe and ukraine, so we remain active in discussions. but clearly, it's a european decision. and there is considerable public disagreements within europe. >> okay. well, let me be clear. i think president obama should do everything he can to kill this nordstream 2. i just wonder if the president has discussed this with chancellor merkel. >> well, i'm not free to discuss what those conversations are. >> thank you, madam chairman. >> thank you. senator franken. >> thank you, madam chair. mr. secretary, i'm pleased to see that the administration has increased funding for our shared priorities of energy efficiency, renewable energy, storage and research.
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i want to turn to something you and i have discussed in the past, the tribal indian energy loan guarantee program. this program was authorized by the energy policy act of 2005 to help tribes overcome challenges in securing financing for energy projects. but it has never received federal funding. this program would allow d.o.e. to guarantee loans issued to an indian tribe for energy development, developing these energy resources would bring high-quality jobs to indian country, which indian country desperately needs. that's why i support this program. as do many members of this committee on both sides of the aisle. and i was -- last year, you had
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put in your budget about $11 million for that, which would have leveraged about $90 million in projects. i was very disappointed to see that the program's not included in this the president's budget request. i am going to do everything to make sure that congress appropriates funding in this bill because it has a lot of allies. secretary moniz, i know that this is an issue that you care about. we've talked about it in this committee. would you also press senate appropriators to fund this program? >> as you say, i am certainly very, very supportive of the indian energy program. i think it's important. and i would note that the -- a piece of the current energy bill in the senate i think is a step forward by providing for the
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tribes and alaska native corporations access to the section 17 -- title 17 loan program. so, i think that's a good start. i would note that it would be included at least modest access to the credit subsidy part of the energy efficiency and renewable title 17 loan program. >> 17.03 program? >> 17.03 program. >> yes. i was going to ask you about that, but thank you. let me move on to the transformer reserve. in 2013, we saw a gunman attack a substation in northern california and severely damage 17 transformers. fortunately, this incident did not cause major outages. however, this attack made it clear that our grid is vulnerable to massive disruptions from physical attacks and even cyber attacks
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or extreme weather. mr. secretary, what is the current capacity for utilities in terms of having a reserve of transformers that could be used in emergencies to respond to a coordinated attack on our grid? >> well, some of the -- of the large ious have taken some steps in this direction. but if you look across the country as a whole, i would say we are still quite vulnerable. we are now doing a significant study of this, and we will report that back to the congress. and depending upon its outcomes, of course, we may talk about it some federal role in establishing a more complete coverage. we might also talk about that and, frankly, we have talked about it as potentially a north american strategy particularly with our very strong integration with the canadian grid.
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>> i do know that we have a study, but i filed an amendment to the energy bill to authorize d.o.e. to create a reserve, to create a strategic transformer reserve. this authorization was included in the energy bill that passed out of the house. it was my understanding that the edison electric institute and some others have expressed some concerns that a federal reserve would be duplicative and could interfere with the industry's current voluntary sharing programs. do you think that the industry's voluntary sharing program goes far enough? >> well, i think that's a part of the study that will come out. but as i said, i mentioned the independent -- the investor-owned utilities, which ei represents, but we do have many other structures for electricity delivery in this country. and i don't want to prejudge the outcome of the study, but i think that that diversity of utility structures will probably end up suggesting the need for
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some reserve, yeah. >> when will the study be completed? >> it's due in december, but we had started it actually earlier than the congressional directive to do it within one year, so we may be able to get it there earlier. >> thank you very much, mr. secretary. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator franken. senator daines, you are up next. >> used to be in the supply chain business. this is called just in time right here. secretary moniz, good to see you again. i very much enjoyed our time in alaska. enjoyed talking about gravitational waves, the 27th dimension, and getting insights into your amazing mind in terms of nuclear physics. >> and your insights into social media. >> it was a great snapchat trip. on that visit one of the aspects
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that we focused on was the energy challenges certainly facing alaska native villages and the office of indian energy. this office was created by congress in 2005 and has the statutory authority to facilitate energy development in indian country. i recognize your budget asks for nearly $23 million above the enacted $60 million for fy-'16 and i'll be submitting some questions for the record on this account. your budget proposes $600 million in fy-'17 including $240 million of which is available from repurposing funding from clean coal projects. $32 million below the enacted level. at the same time, the budget proposes $2.9 billion in energy efficiency, renewable energy which is $829 million above fy-'16. if we step back and looking at the global demand for coal, it's going to increase in the coming years.
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you look at the pie charts of coal consumption, the u.s. consumes about 10% of the world's coal. the rest of the world consumes the other 90%. so, as we think about global stewardship, environmental stewardship, i believe the united states should be leaders in clean coal technologies. and i'm concerned your budget proposal does not reflect that sentiment. i spent five years working in mainland china for procter & gamble and saw firsthand the challenges they face environmentally over there. and i'm just concerned that if we don't continue to lead and invest in clean technology, clean fossil fuel technology, we may abdicate that leadership perhaps to china or to india or somewhere else or perhaps nobody takes those reins and leads with it. so, i think taking away money from one of the few larger-scale clean coal technology programs and repurposing it for other projects is troubling. and this is at a time when the administration to the epa power
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plan is threatening to take away affordable power from the grid such as the case of the coal strip plant in my home state of montana. so, the question is, why are we undercutting projects that are applying clean coal and carbon capture technologies at a commercial scale? >> well, let me make a few points. first of all, by the way, i might note i think just today there was an article that china announced that its coal production -- its coal use went down by 3% in one year. they probably have peaked in terms of use. and they're closing another 1,000 coal mines in china so that's an interesting development. now -- >> just on that point other data suggests that china is building a new coal-fired plant every ten days for the next ten years. and as we look at the global forecast between now and 2040 for coal consumption and, of course, these are all forecasts and you take them based on assumptions, but the global coal
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use looks to increase by most respectable forecasts between 10% and 15% from where we're at today in 2040. so, the trend line globally is still going up for coal. >> no. i agree. but china as by far the largest coal user, it is significant, i think, that they have come down several percent in one year and may have peaked. i'm not saying they have, but they may have peaked. and as far as building, they're doing a lot of shutting older, inefficient plants, replacing them with more modern plants, of course, addressing their very, very serious pollution problems. in terms of our domestic program, first of all, i do want to emphasize that there are many aspects of support for coal going forward that are not simply in the fossil energy budget. i'm not going to go through all of them, but includes in particular i do want to emphasize that probably $5 billion both production tax
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credits and investment tax credits proposed for carbon capture and sequestration. so, that's a pretty big we hope incentive towards deploying new projects. with regard to the fossil energy support, we did not undercut any projects. we have three projects -- three large projects that are either already operating, one for three years, a carbon capture project, and some that are coming on in 2016, we'll have three. we did do the repurposing of projects that even though we gave extensions of time could not meet the criteria, could not meet any financial close, so those funds being repurposed to actually develop new what we hope will be very competitive technologies, for example, going
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to things like ten megawatt pilot projects for new technologies like chemical looping and oxy-combustion which could be important for the future. another point is that apart from those explicitly carbon capture projects, r&d and/or tax incentive, we also have going on things that are, you know, they're not called coal. but they are very directly relevant to, for example, higher efficiency coal plants. one is we have a substantial increase for our pilot program on super critical carbon dioxide cycles which would give much higher efficiency for any thermal plant, of course, including coal. and it's led by fossil because of coal basically. and secondly, things like in the office of science and, in fact, we propose a new crosscut initiative in this budget for
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advanced materials in extreme environments. that would include going to the very high temperatures and pressures for going to ultra, ultrasupercritical coal plants so there's quite a bit in there. >> thanks for the insights on that. i'm out of time. just in closing the projections coal use globally will be higher the next 20, 30 years than it is today by most forecasts. and i hope the united states can continue to lead in clean coal technology. i think as leaders here we will be the best guardians overall of global stewardship and i'd like to see the continued investments here in clean coal technology. >> i think this portfolio of investments is one i think will accomplish the goals. >> thanks, dr. monis. >> senator cantwell. >> thank you, again, for working so diligently on this budget proposal. as you can imagine i have -- well, i have many questions, but i have four specific -- i have four questions and they're all related to hanford as you can imagine.
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greatly, greatly important subject for our entire nation, but particularly important in the state of washington as we are integrally involved in making sure the tri-party agreement and many things are lived up to. so i have a question about the buildings i mentioned the 324 and the 61810 and the fact that this budget decrease -- i think i've said practically to every energy secretary that i have had the opportunity of working with since i've been in the senate, i firmly believe that the energy secretary should be for life or until hanford is cleaned up. because as i mentioned with budget -- >> that would extend beyond life. >> i hope not. i think the issue is, is that, you know, with such a large budget need, i think from time to time people come in with ideas and notions of how to they think cut corners, save dollars and i have seen so many different proposals that have gone by the wayside where people
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try to implement something, it doesn't work, and then come back a few years later and fold on that only to cost us billions. so, one of the things i wanted to on this river corridor project, these -- they are making good progress, but why not continue to make progress given that this radioactive plume is so close in proximity to the river and that we want to make sure that there is, you know, important, you know, hanfordwide service account which ensures proper maintenance of the infrastructure and to make sure that we continue to move ahead. so, that's one question. second, i want to understand what we're going to do in the next year on additional public meetings for focusing on defense waste cleanup. that's an initiative that, you know, separating commercial and defense waste and moving forward on that proposal is something that i think is very important for us to continue to do. and i know that there were cuts
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to the community support budget. this is something that's very important to the people in the -- in the tri-cities. last year there was a decision made to decouple defense waste and commercial waste and then there was a process of holding meetings to define what consent agreements mean. and i've noticed that this proposed budget cuts the community and regulatory support. so, this is important to places like benton and franklin and grant counties so that they can focus on, you know, having, you know, comments in this process. and lastly, i also see that the historic, you know, the hanford national historic part -- park budget does not reflect a contribution from the department of energy. and i'm concerned about that and want to make sure that doi and d.o. emed are going to work together to move forward on
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that. but my main question is, will you take a second look at this cleanup priority for the river corridor and looking at that budget cut and looking at how challenged we are on the -- the site itself and its proximity and look what we can do to remedy that cut. >> thank you. first of all, of course, we'd be very happy to sit down and kind of work through what the constraints and the opportunities are in the budget. obviously we are working with an overall strained budget in which we try to optimize for the highest priorities and frankly the area across the country, but includes hanford for sure, that is the -- in many ways we consider to be the highest risk is -- is tank waste, you know, addressing that and so we certainly have a very high
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priority at three sites for tank waste. now, on the river corridor specifically for the fy-'17 budget for richland, first of all, i very much appreciate your acknowledgement that there's been a lot of progress along the corridor. the budget will support several major priorities. we could always do more, but it will -- major priorities, to finish the demolition of the plutonium finishing plant which has always been viewed as one of the most hazardous places. to remove sludge from the k-basins very, very close to the river. to continue certainly in the plateau to do the pumping, the cleanup of the underground water. and with regard to building 324, we are moving forward, but there are -- there are safety issues,
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and to clean up underneath the building is going to require a robotics approach, and we are developing it. but we feel to do it safely we're going to have to succeed in developing that technology. >> so, you think this is partly a timing issue about the technologist that's needed? >> yes. so, we're working on that but we need to develop a remote capability to be able to clean up the area underneath -- underneath the building. >> well, would you commit to sitting down with senator murray and i and discussing this issue -- >> sure. >> -- to remedy this? >> i'd be happy to. but in the spirit of trying to recognize physical realities and i know you are as well, and that was certainly part of the whole -- i think you indirectly alluded to it, the necessary redesign, phased approach to e the -- to the


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